the rusty old trowel beside the patch of inadequately turned
loam. He had stared down at the trowel, and had felt that
he was suddenly staring at a darkly coiling depth within
himself. That moment had been like the moment in there,
tonight. He had, in the end, sent a negro up to fix the
flower beds on the morning of the day before the night of the
taking of the oath, as though the act might have been a kind
of atonement offered to her for the step he was about to take,
a gesture toward her across a widening distance. She had
never mentioned the matter of the garden to him again, not
even to thank him.
She went upstairs very early that night when he watched
her from the shadow of the sugar trees, but he waited for
the light to go out in the bedroom, and then for a considerable
A few days later she again asked him, " Perse, what's the
matter?" And feeling his nerves stiffen and the food just
swallowed turn to a cold mass in his stomach, he carefully
laid down his fork and said in a voice which, despite its
control, betrayed the vibration of an inner tension, "No-
thing." She continued to study his face while she pretended
to eat and while the negro cook padded in and out of the
room. She said nothing else the entire meal. The next
morning, after he had told her good-bye at the front door
and had taken a couple of steps across the porch, he turned
abruptly and came back to her and pressed her to him. She
clung to him while the pressure of his grip increased and
while he bent over her to hold his lips hard against the mass
of hair on top of her head. " Oh, Perse, Perse!" she breathed.
Her eyes, he noticed when he had released her and stepped
away from her, were swimming with unshed tears.
"Do you love me, Perse?" she demanded.
" Sure," he said, " sure, I love you."
" Love me, Perse. Love me always," she pleaded.
"Always," he promised, and turned away down the over-
grown, mossy brick walk, beside which unkempt jonquils
were in full bloom. His mare, saddled and ready, was hitched